Missing is a 2016 Korean film that follows the story of a struggling, overworked mother, Ji-sun, fighting for custody of her daughter with her ex-husband, Hyeon-ik. Whilst this is coming to a head Ji-sun’s Korean-Chinese nanny, Han-mae, absconds with the baby.
It takes a while for the film to get into its stride but when it does, and through the middle section of the film, it builds tension really well and provides some really well crafted shocks. With more digging into the past there are reveals that bring to light some truly awful experiences that give more weight to the story but unfortunately I found that the climax and the epilogue took all of that tension away and descended into melodrama, which is a shame.
Uhm Ji-won gives a great performance as the increasingly desperate mother, Ji-sun, showing her willingness to do anything to get her baby back even after her seeming disconnect from her raising in favour of her job. There are numerous incompetent police officers, a growing trend within Korean narratives it seems, leaving Ji-sun to try to solve this case herself, with the added pressure of a truly horrendous ex-mother-in-law barking and complaining the whole way through. Gong Hyo-jin as Han-mae shows an innocence aligned with a calculated and manipulative side but also, with the backstory, gets to show a more emotional aspect to her character, being put into some shocking situations.
It is refreshing to see a film of this type revolving around female characters, with the male characters being secondary to the leads, so there is kudos for that and to director Lee Eon-hee for bringing this to the screen. However, it just couldn’t quite find the ending that all the excellent build up deserved, leading to me leaving with a slight feeling of disappointment or a missed opportunity when the credits started to roll.